Living Math


Math is used every day. Living math is an aptly put term for teaching math through the every day uses of math. Children are taught how to solve real life math problems using real life scenarios or hands on manipulatives or simply through play. Push the worksheets and textbooks aside and see the equations you solve daily. A child will learn to understand math when he sees the connection to the physical world around him.

Real world math scenarios to consider:

  • Doubling a recipe.
  • Cutting a recipe in half.
  • Calculating change before the cashier hands it back.
  • How much money do you need to save a week to purchase a video game system.
  • Calculating how much money will be deducted once coupons tallied on a bill.
  • Measuring the square footage of a room.
  • Dividing cookies among a group.
  • Calculating how many minutes until bed.
  • Sorting socks in the laundry.

Children are natural mathematicians. If you read three bedtime stories, ask you child how many more stories are left after reading one. You will notice a child also understands dividing evenly as she hands out candy among children. Math simply comes naturally and we should allow the process. The real life connections will help a child understand the usefulness of math.

You do not need to spend a lot of money on math manipulatives. You likely have many things around your house. Here are some inexpensive items that are effective math manipulatives.

  • Button
  • Birthday candles
  • Dice
  • Dominoes
  • Playing cards
  • Egg cartons (for sorting or for placing one item in the first section, two in the second, and so on)
  • Dry pasta
  • M&Ms
  • Cereal such as Froot Loops or Cheerios

Allow math to happen naturally. Count the steps as you climb up or down. For older students you can have them balance a mock checkbook of help plan to save up for a family vacation. Get creative and live math to teach math.

MathMath fab Mathonwy, a king in Welsh mythology

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